Labrenz met Vettese after her return from Guatemala and describes him as “inspirational. He had the vision to improve the lives of the workers and their families and the drive to actually accomplish his goal. I saw firsthand some of the ways these programs have benefited people. One of the teachers had been educated thanks to Central American Ministries and had a job that allowed her to move out of the garbage dump into a house in a better area of the city. For each one person that is able to leave the garbage dump, that person’s children and grandchildren are also saved from a life of poverty.
“I would absolutely do it again,” concludes Labrenz. “I think that everyone should do a trip like this at some point in their lives.”
Andrew Pawuk, CAM’s director of international programs, calls Vettese “a great guy—and a great man.” “He’s not anything you’d expect,” says Christine Alexander, who worked at St. John’s for eight years while Vettese was president. “He’s funny, focused, and doesn’t suffer fools at all. He can be irreverent, especially if you have money and he thinks you’re not willing to part with it. But he’s also a visionary, but the kind of visionary who knows how to get things done. He demands more from you than you thought you had in you, and he makes you want to do it.”